Marco Materazzi has admitted he insulted Zinedine Zidane prior to the head-butt which earned the Frenchman a red card in Sunday's World Cup final.
Zidane lost his cool during extra-time in Berlin and charged at Italy defender Materazzi, butting him in the chest.
Theories have abounded as to what Materazzi might have said to provoke such a response and the former Everton defender concedes he did make an offensive remark.
Materazzi, 32, told Gazetta dello Sport: 'I held his shirt for a few seconds only, then he turned to me and talked to me, jeering.
'He looked at me with a huge arrogance and said, 'If you really want my shirt I'll give it to you afterwards'. I replied with an insult, that's true.'
Materazzi has not elaborated on what he did say, but one report suggested he responded with: 'I'd rather take the shirt off your wife'.
He has denied, however, some of the more vile insults referring to his wife or sister or calling him a terrorist.
'It was one of those insults you're told dozens of times and that you often let fall on a pitch,' Materazzi said.
'I did not call him a terrorist. I am not a cultured person and I don't even know what an Islamist terrorist is.'
He added: 'For me the mother is sacred, you know that.'
The incident marked an unsavoury end to Zidane's career, especially as France went on to lose the match on penalties. The 34-year-old had said he would retire after the tournament.
Zidane himself is yet to speak on the incident but his agent yesterday claimed the reaction was due to a 'very serious' comment.
Suggestions that Materazzi's remarks may have been vile or racist in nature have raised the issue of whether he should face some sort of retrospective action himself.
Tournament organisers FIFA have given no indication they might pursue such a line but English referees chief Keith Hackett sees no reason why such a principle should not be established.
Hackett told BBC Radio Five Live: 'They are reluctant to take action after the game but here is a situation where, if there is proof, for the good of the game, action should be taken.
'I am pleased the Football Association, in May, wrote a circular to all clubs, through the PFA and LMA, reminding everyone that racist remarks constitute a sending-off offence.'